Friday, July 27, 2012
Christmas (Shopping) in July
When in comes to rock and roll legends, the business of making books has overtaken the business of making music. Fan books have been around for years, some of them like Dave Marsh’s Born To Run have more depth and readability than a fanzine. But as the megastars reach the mid-century point in their careers, they feel a need to tell all in their own words. This summer’s crop includes:
Elton John’s Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the end of Aids
Greg Allman’s My Cross to Bear
Buddy Guy’s When I Left Home: My Story (with David Ritz)
Rodney Crowell’s Chinaberry Sidewalk ( out in paperback)
Other notables include Patti Smith, who made the list of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in part because of her memoir, Just Kids, about growing up with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Perhaps the most presumptuous title goes to Mitch Ryder, whose book is titled
Devils and Blue Dresses, My Wild Ride as a Rock and Roll Legend.
Often these books are released in conjunction with new CD’s (Patti Smith’s "Banga" got some good reviews) or a concert tour. The publicity tours make for good radio and television interviews because there are plenty of tunes to play and then discuss. Elton John talks about how the first lyrics from Bernie Taupin came by mail, then fax and now email.
And they make for some interesting moments on the air. When Bob Edwards asked Mitch Ryder what happened at a live concert in Detroit when he tried to tell Bruce Sprinsteen how to play “Devil with the Blue Dress,” Mitch pleaded, “But it’s my song!” Edwards: “But he’s The Boss!”
Ryder also had a few choice words for the big business establishment that rock and roll has become: “I’m a fan of rebellion that doesn’t need rules, let alone a museum.”
Some might attribute this spate of memoirs to the success of Keith Richards' Life. The rest of the Rolling Stones will try to play catch up with a coffee table book, The Rolling Stones 50. It is not due out until the early Christmas shopping season starts in October but the band announced it with a splash in London on July 12, the 50th anniversary of their first gig.
Neil Young’s memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, also has an October publication date, and is the third leg of a media trifecta that includes, his latest CD, “Americana” (he covers “This Land is Your Land”), and a new concert movie of his 2011 solo tour directed by Jonathan Demme, “Neil Young’s Journeys.”
Even though I seldom do my Christmas shopping until the week before, you’ve been given a chance to beat the rush.